Cordelia’s Honor (Part 2: Barrayar) by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is the second half of the omnibus, Cordelia’s Honor. I read the first half, which was Shards of Honor, earlier this year.

That review is here:

Now it’s taken me a while to read the second half but it is eligible (sort of) for Avid Book Reader’s TBR challenge. This months theme was “Unusual pro­fes­sions or not your usual setting.” Yeah, sure, this counts..

**** There are some SPOILERS for the end of Shards of Honor in describing the premise for Barrayar! If you want to stay completely unspoiled, leave now. Go look at the Shards of Honor review (see links above) *****

Falalala, waiting for people to leave…OK here goes

The Premise: This continues the adventures of Cordelia Naismith after the events of Shards of Honor. After the reception on her home planet Beta Colony and the events in stopping a galactic war, Cordelia has married and settled down with Admiral Aral Vorkosigan in happy retirement on Barrayar. Their retirement is short-lived however when Aral accepts a position as Regent to the infant prince, Gregor Vorbarra, and Cordelia discovers she is pregnant. That’s what happened at the end of Shards of Honor. Now Cordelia learns the true price to her husband’s regency as they become political targets and Aral’s position is threatened by assassination attempts and coups.

My Thoughts: This half of the Cordelia’s Honor omnibus was very hard to get into compared to the first half. After finishing up Shards of Honor (which I loved), I immediately began Barrayar, but the first one hundred pages felt slowly paced. What happens is essentially Cordelia’s acclimation into Barrayaran life and as Regent-Consort. We revisit familiar Barrayarans from the last book – her bodyguard Drou, her husband’s secretary Koudelka, and Sgt. Bothari. A lot of this was just settling in and reminders of what had happened in Shards of Honor as well as introducing the reader to Barrayar. Unfortunately all of this was really dry, and I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to keep reading. Even the threat of looming danger, and the decisions of the new Regent didn’t really keep my interest because after a third of a book is done and hardly anything has actually happened, you begin to suspect nothing ever will. I kept trying but ended up putting the book down for a few months. Finally I picked it up again, and I must have chosen a bad place to stop because only a couple pages later did things start to get interesting.

The big instigator for much of what happens is of course now Regent Vorkosigan’s controversial political assignment. I think this book may be a little darker than Shards of Honor, but maybe it’s a bit of a toss up, depending on what affects you more. Cordelia and Aral become targets of terrorists and so to the people near them. The plots and political as well as military maneuvering and strategy, seen sort of after the fact were rather fascinating. Sometimes they were heartrending too. Cordelia is the anchor who sees what her husband has to go through knowing that his decisions have far reaching consequences.  The most personal of these is the fate that befalls their son, who is still a fetus.

In the tumultuous events that happen, it becomes clear that the strength of mothers is a reoccurring theme, which the author reiterates in the Afterword. There are a few examples in Barrayar, with the obvious case being Cordelia and her protectiveness of her son. I loved how her concerns as a mother butted against Aral’s position as the Regent, and how this problem was solved. I also liked how Aral had to make decisions that Cordelia did not like, but she still understood him and vice versa. They really compliment each other in the best way, and this is a couple that I really liked reading about beyond their initial romance and wedding and into their day-to-day marriage.  Cordelia is the character that the book focuses on and she continues to be a heroine I root for – smart and resourceful, but it’s clear that even in the male dominated Barrayaran society, there are women who are just as strong if not stronger than their male counterparts.

Overall: Barrayar started slow as molasses for me, and I almost gave up on it, I’m sorry to say. Happily, the last two thirds of the book were excellent. That’s when there was plenty of action and the character development I had come to expect. I continue to love Cordelia Naismith (she’s a delightfully strong female character) and look forward to reading the adventures of her son.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
I couldn’t find any, although I did find many posts referencing Barrayar.
Please let me know if you have reviewed this and I’ll link to it.

1 thought on “Cordelia’s Honor (Part 2: Barrayar) by Lois McMaster Bujold

  1. Pingback: Barrayar – Lois McMaster Bujold « Bibliophage's Buffet

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